Colin's Sandbox

Coaching Teachers in MinecraftEdu

by on Apr.03, 2013, under #diffimooc

[Edit – I’ve completely rewritten this piece after a discussion with Dr. Graham.  Thanks for the substantive feedback.]

The narrative form first: What I’m really looking for here is for teachers to develop real meaningful problems with their students that they can use MinecraftEdu to model solutions, working together when feasible.  The unit should be documented in some online fashion to support the students asynchronously, and where applicable in the Minecraft world itself to allow walk throughs.  To support collaboration the students should be encouraged to follow this lead and put their project description and reflections in similar formats.  Throughout the unit the teacher will model and monitor responsible etiquette in the online forums used.  When help is needed, the teacher should consult the various resources available to them (e.g. the Minecraft and MinecraftEdu Wikis, “Minecraft-teacher” mailing list, various forums, etc.).

Along the way a sample problem and solution should be used to demonstrate the various parts of the project, from conception, documentation, through implementation, and finally on to reflection.  Students should be exposed to various methods for finding information that’s already out there for their benefit.  Kudos for innovative ways of demonstrating solutions, such as utilizing a 3D printer for selected projects, or an online gallery of screenshots that students help curate.

NETS-T Standards

1b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources

1c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes

3d. Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning

4c. Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information

Rewording to be centered around the unit:

1b. Use MinecraftEdu to demonstrate a possible solution to a real-world problem, demonstrating sample solution workflow.

  • High – The teacher helps to guide the students in selecting and defining a problem to work towards solving.  A sample, relevant problem is discussed along with a solution created in MinecraftEdu.
  • Moderate – Students choose from a preset set of possible solutions to a predefined problem.  A sample solution is shown as an example.
  • Needs Improvement – A sample solution to a predefined problem is discussed but not available to the students to examine.  Students are expected to recreate the sample solution as described.

1c. Promote reflection and collaboration using a set of online tools that allow for creativity.

  • High – The teacher demonstrates expected modes of project documentation such as in-game text blocks for contextual information, and Google Sites or Google Documents for project description and collaboration.
  • Moderate – The teacher notes the availability of the documentation and collaboration tools but does not sufficiently demonstrate when or how to use each.
  • Needs Improvement – Student collaboration is not encouraged through the use of online tools or in-game blocks.

3d. Teachers use and demonstrate online resources available for Minecraft and MinecraftEdu to enhance student learning.

  • High – Students are shown and allowed to edit a series of most commonly used Minecraft and MinecraftEdu Wiki pages as a collaborative group resource using a tool such as Diigo or Pearltrees.  Other resources, such as YouTube tutorial videos, are added to the group resource to support student objectives.
  • Moderate – Students are shown the existence of the Minecraft and MinecraftEdu Wikis, and these resources are centrally listed, however no effort is made to encourage students to share resources with other participants.
  • Needs Improvement – Students rely solely upon their own search skills to locate resources necessary to complete their goals.  No effort is made to list useful resources for the class.

4c. Teachers demonstrate respectful etiquette both in in-game and public communication outlets.

  • High – Teachers show students when and how to use the in-game chat in a manner respectful to all participants.  When possible, chats are logged for future reference.  The tone of all online documentation is likewise held to a high standard of professionalism to encourage meaningful engagement from all participants as well as to demonstrate their work to others.
  • Moderate – Teachers do not regularly monitor the in-game chat.  Online student-led project documentation is held to a moderate to high standard.
  • Needs Improvement – In-game chat is not monitored.  Online student-led project documentation is either not present or not reviewed for appropriateness.

1 Comment for this entry

  • Anne Kurland

    Colin, this is great. I like the idea of teaching the students how to share resources through existing wiki sites and using in-game blocks for reflection and collaboration. I also like your thoughts on modeling and supervising in-game chat. It is an excellent idea to teach students to see the in-game chat as professional communication for collaboration and not just casual “chatting.”

    Do you have ideas about a sample relevant problem to use as a model? I looked at the Google maps satellite photos of the Monster Lobe area, and they don’t look very clear to me. I think my biggest concern for our project is how to get a map into Minecraft for students to use for identifying and solving real world problems.

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